White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will decide in the next few weeks on whether children under the age of 5 can get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.
The comment comes after the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 boosters for emergency use in children ages 5 through 11. On May 19, a panel of vaccine advisers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted to recommend that children in this age group get a Pfizer booster dose.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off the panel’s recommendation later that day, saying that vaccination among this age group “has lagged behind” other age groups. “With over 18 million doses administered in this age group, we know that these vaccines are safe, and we must continue to increase the number of children who are protected,” Walensky said in a statement.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of American children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one vaccine dose, and 29 percent are considered fully vaccinated with two doses.
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Jha was asked if children under 5 will receive vaccine boosters any soon, considering CDC advisors have green-lighted boosters for older children.
“What I know is that Moderna has completed its application, those data are being looked at very closely right now by FDA experts,” Jha said. “My expectation is that as soon as that analysis is done, probably within the next few weeks, we’re going to get that expert outside committee—the VRBPAC (Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee).”
“Then after that, FDA is going to make a decision,” Jha continued. “So my hope is that it’s going to be kind of coming in the next few weeks.”
Jha also called on Congress to “step up and fund” COVID-19 vaccine production in case of a new wave of COVID-19 in the fall or winter.
“One of the reasons I’ve been talking a lot about the need for Congress to step up and fund this effort is, if they don’t, we will go into the fall and winter without that next generation of vaccines, without treatments and diagnostics,” he said.
The CDC advisory penal endorsed the third dose of Pfizer vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds as safety concerns continue to grow. During a virtual meeting on May 19, the CDC confirmed that a young boy suffered heart inflammation and died 12 days after getting the first dose of a Pfizer vaccine.
“This patient had a rapid clinical course. From the time they started experiencing their abdominal pain day 13 after dose one until the time they were brought into the [emergency department] and subsequently died was on the order of a couple of hours,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a CDC vaccine analyst, said during a meeting of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
“Histopathological evidence of myocarditis was present on autopsy, and that was resolved to be the cause of death,” he added.